The intrinsically disordered C-terminal linker of FtsZ regulates protofilament dynamics and superstructure in vitro

Kousik Sundararajan, Erin D. Goley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The bacterial tubulin FtsZ2 polymerizes to form a discontinuous cytokinetic ring that drives bacterial cell division by directing local cell wall synthesis. FtsZ comprises a polymerizing GTPase domain, an intrinsically disordered C-terminal linker (CTL) and a C-terminal conserved α-helix (CTC). FtsZ protofilaments align circumferentially in the cell, with the CTC mediating attachment to membrane-associated division proteins. The dynamic turnover and treadmilling of clusters of FtsZ protofilaments guides cell wall synthesis and constriction. The nature and regulation of the interactions that result in the assembly of protofilaments into dynamic clusters is unknown. Here, we describe a role for the CTL of Caulobacter crescentus FtsZ as an intrinsic regulator of lateral interactions between protofilaments in vitro. FtsZ lacking its CTL (∆CTL) shows dramatically increased propensity to form long multifilament bundles compared to wildtype (WT). ∆CTL has reduced GTP hydrolysis rate compared to WT. However, reducing protofilament turnover in WT is not sufficient to induce bundling. Surprisingly, binding of the membrane-anchoring protein FzlC disrupts ∆CTL bundling in a CTC-dependent manner. Moreover, the CTL affects the ability of FtsZ curving protein FzlA to promote formation of helical bundles. We conclude that the CTL of FtsZ influences polymer structure and dynamics both through intrinsic effects on lateral interactions and turnover and by influencing extrinsic regulation of FtsZ by binding partners. Our characterization of CTL function provides a biochemical handle for understanding the relationship between Z-ring structure and function in bacterial cytokinesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • Bundling
  • Caulobacter crescentus
  • Cytoskeleton
  • FtsZ
  • Intrinsically disordered

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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